Vietnamese Pork Pho
For the Pork Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 250-300g piece of pork (I used a huge 2 lb picnic roast. What? It was on sale!) (bone in or boneless)
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
- To make the Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
- In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 2 hours, skimming the surface frequently.
- Use tongs to remove the pork piece (or pieces) and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in.
- Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
- Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
- Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded pork and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
- Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Credit goes to a quick Google search: Pork Pho
I spent time with my kids and my niece at the Lake Mirror Promenade this evening. We enjoyed a stroll around the lake, played in the park a bit and walked through the gardens. The weather was beautiful and the kids were quite tranquil. They had a good evening and so did I.
There are only a few other things that could have made the evening better. Maybe some day soon.
So, where do I start? Life has been interesting over the last week. It has come with its own new and interesting challenges. The first few days were really just the typical 1 Panther shenanigans. Wednesday, the kids traveled back to the state of North Carolina with their mother. I was able to chat with them while they were on their drive. Rose was her usual, bubbly personality. Telling me in her own way about her adventures. I am rather in love with that little lady. Dave was asleep the first time I called. The harridan was kind enough to call back when Dave woke up, mainly because he kept telling her he wanted to talk to his Daddy.
Yesterday morning, after finishing a pretty good PT session, I had headed home to get a shower. I was dressed and heading out the door when M called me and told me that she had found a swollen lymph node in D’s groin while she was drying him off after his shower. Let me give you a little background about our feelings toward swollen lymph nodes. In March of 2008, it was a swollen lymph node in the same location on Rose that led to her being diagnosed with leukemia. Yes, we tend to take them seriously. So, I instructed her to take him to the clinic. I told her I would make an appointment for the earliest time. I made it to the clinic right at 0930 (EST) and made an appoint for 1005. It was the earliest appointment they had and the only one left open for the day.
I walked out to the parking lot and chatted with my best friend on the phone. We talked about what was going on and the possibilities. I told her that this had happened with D once before, in 201o. That time, it just turned out that he had a viral infection. Anyway, M texted, saying that she didn’t think she would be able to make it by 1005. I reminded her that they did not have another appointment available that day and that the next day (today), we were completely loaded down with appointments. I told her I would go ahead and get D checked in and that she should get there as soon as possible. It was only about 5 minutes after I had checked him in, and still 10 minutes prior to his appointment, when M arrived with the kids in tow. As soon as the kids saw me, they came bounding towards me, screaming “Daddy!” in very excited and happy voices. I must say, I was quite happy to see my babies.
We ended up sitting there, waiting for about an hour before we were called back to see the doctor. Now, the entire time we were waiting, the kids are all over me. They are sitting in my lap, leaning on me from the chair next to me, or generally just trying to keep my attention. I would ask them for a hug or a kiss and they would happily and promptly give me one. M would ask for one and they would either ignore her or say no. I am NOT trying to block a relationship between my children and their mother. I am trying to ensure that they have a strong and loving relationship with her. What she does on her time with them will effect what they decide to do. They both kept telling me the whole time we were there that they wanted to go home to our house.
The doc was finally able to see Dave. He checked all of the lymph nodes, finding only the one in Dave’s groin to be swollen. He ordered a CBC blood draw to see what is going on in D’s blood. Now, let me tell you, THAT was an experience from hell. My son, being one of the bravest little boys I have ever known, absolutely hates, I repeat HATES, needles. I went in with him to the lab and had him in my lap for the blood draw. That boy has a very well tuned and strong pair of lungs and vocal cords. He can get loud. He would be crying, saying that he didn’t want a shot and that he wanted his mommy. Well, M came in and asked him if he wanted her to hold him and he shouted no at her and told her he wanted me. He is rather confusing at times. It’s okay, I still love him. When that was finally said and done, it was noon. M technically still had an hour to go with the kids and decided that she wanted to take them to the park. I was tempted to just tell her to hand them off to me then, but in essence of fairness and what is right by the kids, I told her I would just meet her at the park at 1300.
I ran to the shopette, got a drink and something to eat and headed back to work. I never even bothered to get out of the car. I was in the middle of a conversation with my best friend on the phone and didn’t feel like going in to the office. It isn’t like there was anything I wanted to do in there anyway. I am honestly ready for this week to be over with already so that we can go ahead and head down to Florida. It will be the first time in over a year that my kids got to see my family.It is about time that they started to get to know their family. Plus, I plan on taking them to Disney World. I hate crowds, but I am dying to experience Disney with my kids. It should be a lot of fun.
Today was hectic unto itself. It was back to back appointments. At 0730 (EST), Rose had her Exception Family Member Program (To be known from here as EFMP) physical. Her doctor at the clinic had to fill out some paperwork so that I could get her enrollment status updated. EFMP ensures that I will be stationed in locations that have the specialists she needs on hand and nearby. It also assists with special programs that she may need. The Army truly does have some amazing programs to assist with your family members. I am thankful and blessed that I have so many opportunities in providing for my children.
After we got the physical knocked out and put in some referrals for family counseling, I took the kids over to their babysitter’s house. Miss Kat, their babysitter, is an amazing friend and has a great understanding of my situation and my children’s needs. Rose was diagnosed with a mild form of autism back in January. Kat’s own son has something similar, so she knows how to work with Rose and help explain some of her behaviors to me when I just don’t understand. God brings the people you need in your life at the right time. Kat and I have been friends for almost 10 years at this point, so the Big Boss was definitely planning from the beginning for these events.
I got the kids settled in at Miss Kat’s and then headed back to the hospital on post. I went to the EFMP coordinator’s office, filled out some more paperwork and then turned it in to get Rose’s record updated. After that, I had an appointment of my own that I needed to get to at 1100. That lasted for about an hour, When I got finished with that, I ran home and got myself some lunch before I had to go pick the kids up from Kat.
At 1500 (EST), the kids, M, and I had to be at the courthouse for a Parent Education Program and Mediation Orientation Class. The kids went to a children’s support group. There were no parents in there, just a psychiatrist who was there to let the kids say what they wanted, talk about their feelings, etc. The parents remained in the court room, watching a video and hearing lectures on certain aspects of the child custody mediation process. That wrapped up a little after 1700 and then the kids and I headed home, while M went off to where ever it is that she is staying. I honestly don’t care as long as she doesn’t try showing up on my doorstep. I am done with her as a spouse. I don’t want to have contact with her anymore, but I will have to for at least another 13 years or so. She and I set a date for our own mediation appointment. After her trying to call and talk me into shared custody the other night, I foresee this being pointless and us having to take this before a judge.
That kind of sucks because if we could come to an agreement in mediation, then we wouldn’t have to go through the rigamaroll of a trial. C’est la vie, dear reader, such is life. I have a pile of evidence and it will be the same judge that decided I was to be the kids primary guardian. Morgan is going to want to try and fight the custody and visitation agreement that she just agreed to the Friday before Father’s Day. Yeah, that’s right, in order to do what is best for our children, I allowed her to spend time with them when I was not legally obligated to do so, and gave up my right to spend Father’s Day with our children. Well, fuck me, what an asshole I am, right? According to her, yes. Oh well, she is going to believe what she wants and blame me for all of her bad decisions anyway. Sucks for her. She has been found wanting as a wife, mother and human being.
After we got out of that, the kids and I headed home. They asked if they could go swimming when we got home and I was perfectly fine with that idea. Today had been sweltering and they had spent much of it inside at Miss Kat’s house. I was rather looking forward to enjoying a refreshing dip in the pool with my two little amphibious wonders. We had a great time. You guys would have had fun.
For now, I must bid you all adieu. It is 2235 and I am ready to hit the sack. 0430 comes early. Dave has his follow up point in the morning in regards to the results of the CBC, M says that she will be there. I guess she wasn’t quite willing to run off yet after court today. She had no problem trying to cut me out of their lives, but I am going to do what is best for my children. They need a great mother, unfortunately, they are stuck with the one they have. Any volunteers out there want to show her how it is done correctly? lol Just kidding people. Get your panties unbunched. Good night, auf wiedersen, God bless, folks. I hope you all have pleasant dreams and better tomorrows.
It has been a while since I have really had anything to say here on the Ramblings of a Mad Man. I have been rather busy being a full-time single father and paratrooper. To be honest, I love it. My kids are so very loving, intelligent, fun and just plain awesome. Their babysitter is a huge help and an awesome friend. The only minuses in my life at the moment are the facts that I hate my current job and my future ex-wife is still a psycho. I guess we all have to deal with challenges in life.
The last week has been filled with work and hanging out with the kids. Our day during the week normally starts around 0430 EST. I get up, get dressed, pack the kids’ bag for the day, get them out of bed and take them to the sitter’s house. After that, work dictates my schedule until about 1630 EST, when I leave to go pick the kids up and head home with them. Depending on the weather, we may hit the pool for a little while and then I cook dinner. After dinner, we play, watch a movie or read a story together and then it is bed time. We say our prayers, go to sleep and do it all over again in the morning. I am working on moving to a non-deployable unit so that my schedule isn’t so packed. I want to be home with them more and I want to be in a more stable position for them.
Right now, Rose is taking a nap, Dave and I are watching Beethoven. Dave likes the movie so far. He keeps begging me for a dog lately, but I just can’t see having a dog in an apartment. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Dave also likes to ask me for a cat. Well, I am probably getting mine back from the future ex-psycho on Saturday. We’ll see how that goes. I want to get him back, but my roommate is allergic to cats. I don’t want to put him out. I guess he and I will talk about it later.
Anyway, I really don’t have much to say right now. There are a lot of things I am still working on and I will update you as time goes by. The kids will be spending a week with their mother starting on Saturday. I don’t like it, but it was part of the agreement to get rid of the damned restraining order and for her to drop her contest of the enforcement of the custody order in Alabama. Don’t worry, everything will be in writing and signed by a judge. If she fails to return them, she loses and goes to jail.